Regardless of a family’s ability to cover the cost for medical care for their child, the Shriner’s Hospital for Children is committed to providing the best care for those in need.
In an effort to assist with continuing provide this quality care, the local Shrine Club of Sampson County holds the annual fish fry as a charitable fundraiser for funds that are given to the hospitals and transportation to take children to and from the hospitals.
According to G.H. Wilson, a member of the local Shrine Club for more than 25 years, the local fish fry will be held Sept. 21 at the Clinton-Sampson Agri-Exposition Center and Horne Brothers Construction on N.C. 24 in Roseboro from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 4-7 p.m.
“The fish fry dates back as far as I can tell, into the 70s maybe,” Wilson said. “It’s safe to say it has been around a long time. It is easily recognized as an event that is looked forward to by many Sampsonians, as well as folks outside of Sampson County.”
The fish fry is the only charitable fundraiser that the Sampson County Shrine Club holds. This, Wilson said, means all funds raised are going to the Shrine hospitals or transportation funding to cover the costs associated with taking children to and from the hospitals.
“Shriners International is very strict on all fundraisers that are advertised as charitable,” Wilson shared. “All proceeds, above expenses and cost of operations, must go to the charities.”
The Sampson County club does hold a golf tournament and sell Vidalia onions to assist with facility costs.
“We usually gross around $25,000 to $26,000 on our fish fry and from that, after expenses, we typically clear $10,000-$12,000,” Wilson said. “We have cleared as much as $16,000 to send to our charities, but over the last few years, expenses have been higher and we have not gone up on the price. So, our profit margin has shrunk.”
According to Wilson, the checks are given to the hospital in Greenville, S.C. or to the transportation fund, which helps cover the cost for drivers to transport children to and from Greenville. One of the local club members, Tony Daughtry, has been a driver for many years and made many trips transporting kids to the hospital.
“What we raise at our events is very important, but those alone would not keep our hospitals going,” Wilson explained. “We have 18 orthopedic hospitals and four burn centers in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Our treatment for our children is carried out without the regard to race, color, creed, sex, disability, national origin or about of a patient or family to pay.”
Known for their red fez, Wilson said people know that the Shriners are doing good things for the children.
“The budget for all the hospitals is tremendous and without charitable giving by folks that aren’t even Shriners, we couldn’t continue to operate them,” Wilson said. “But, what is important as much as the dollars we raise is the awareness that we represent when we have an event.”
The Shriners have a motto — no man stands as tall as when they stoop to help a child.
“I believe in that,” Wilson added. “All our active members believe in that. We have fun but we also work hard.”
Wilson says he became a member because he believes in the Shriner philosophy.
“It’s not as easy to be a Shiner as just walking in off the street,” Wilson said. “First you have to become a mason and to do that, you have to ask a member how to become one. Afterwards, if you join the masons, you will have an opportunity to become a Shriner. It’s well worth the walk.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.